Hands-on: Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified for PS Vita

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Hands-on: Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified for PS Vita

Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified

Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified is real, and we’ve played it. I think the highest compliment I can pay it is to say that, well, it looks and plays like Call of Duty. The running and gunning, the aiming down the sights, the familiar Bank Gothic notices popping up when you land a long-range shot or end an opponent’s killstreak, the weapon loadouts and multiplayer modes — they’re all here, rendered on PS Vita’s luscious OLED screen and playable with dual analog sticks in a mobile setting for the first time.

Activision Product Manager Ryan Scott’s gamescom presentation cut straight to the heart of the matter, starting with the game’s multiplayer offering — a key consideration for any self-respecting CoD title. Multiplayer in Black Ops Declassified supports up to eight players via WiFi across six maps, encompassing essential play modes such as Free for all, Team Deathmatch, and Kill Confirmed, with other “classic Call of Duty modes” promised. Other trademark Call of Duty mechanics such as Create-a-Class, Killstreaks, XP, Perks, and Prestige were all present and accounted for.

Hands-on: Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified for PS Vita

So how is developer Nihilistic adapting Call of Duty to PS Vita? After playing a round on the new “Shatter” map, it’s clear their goals were to change as little as possible. In fact, after inverting the Y-axis, I didn’t bother asking the devs on hand about the controls – everything was where I expected it to be.

Access to the knife, flashbang, and frag grenade that are assigned to L2/R2 or L3/R3 on PS3 are easily accessible on the front touchscreen. To hurl a grenade, you simply drag the grenade icon to the area of the screen where you want to throw it, or hold it to cook the fuse before you lob it. The ability to independently aim your grenade throw while shooting in another direction is a new tactical wrinkle for the series, and one that will surely be leveraged by experienced players. The knife is even quicker to use because you can tap any part of the screen not already assigned to something else to swipe your blade. That’s a highly practical implementation of the touchscreen, as players won’t have to fumble to tap a small icon during a heated CQC encounter, and we found it was quick and responsive.

Call of Duty Black Ops: DeclassifiedCall of Duty Black Ops: Declassified

Those all-important Killstreaks work the way you’d expect. Once you’ve unlocked a killstreak, the icon pops up on the left side of the screen and you can tap to trigger it. The mortar strike killstreak was blessedly simple: tap the icon to open the map, touch the target, and launch a volley of fiery death to annihilate the opposition.

That leaves sprinting, which is executed by pressing down on the directional pad. The left stick and D-pad are placed closely enough on PS Vita that you can place the tip of your thumb on the D-pad while keeping your left thumb on the left stick for quick recovery. The only use of the rear touchscreen we saw was to hold your breath while peering down the sniper’s scope – not something you’re likely to accidentally trigger.

Create-a-Class is fully supported with custom loadouts and Perks Black Ops: Declassified will also leverage PS Vita’s geo-social “near” functionality with Share-a-Class, enabling players to transmit a character class via WiFi using “near,” and will allow your friends access to load-outs they haven’t yet unlocked through regular progression. Prestige levels are also confirmed.

Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified

Visually, the multiplayer map “Shattered” looked sharp, with swirling dust motes, flapping bits of cloth, crumbled architecture, and a steady framerate.

Single-player content wasn’t shown, though Activision confirmed that it will consist of objective-based missions, along with survival and time trial missions, to keep the experience tuned for mobile play. They’ll be wrapped within an original story taking place between Call of Duty: Black Ops and the forthcoming Black Ops 2. Want to know what happened to Hudson, Mason, and Woods before this fall’s Black Ops 2? You know what to do.

Based on what we saw and played, Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified looks and feels much as you’d expect it to – only now it can take the experience with you on PS Vita. For CoD fans, that’s right on target.

Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified arrives this November. Are there any specifics you’d like to know? We’ll be speaking with developer Nihilistic soon, and will do our best to get your questions answered. Leave ‘em in the comments below!

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8 Author Replies

  • Were southpaw controls available? This was absent from Burning Skies.

  • Thank god there are some people that won’t stand for this. You messed up Sony. Delay this game for a year Suck it up like a normal human being and say we didn’t prepare properly. Give as much time as you need, or give it to another seriously do it.

  • Sorry, Jeff, but this looks a little too much like damage control to me. Based on the scathing Dan got in the previous blog post, I guess it would behoove Sony to highlight the presumed ‘positives’ as much as possible. Putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a pig.

  • CAN’T WAIT to buy this game!!!!!!!

  • how many guns are there going to be?

  • No zombies, No buy. 50 dollars is to expensive for what looks like a chessy campaign, 6 smaller black ops maps, and dated graphics. I will only buy if there are zombies.

  • At 151 I completely agree, Sony if you are reading this and feel like this game is going to be a success then you are seriously going the wrong direction with the vita. I mean this is a joke compared to NFS Most Wanted, if they can put that whole game on the vita, then black ops 2 should be able to run on the vita too.

  • Vita’s Call of Duty: Reasons to Worry

    Ign posted a decent article.

  • @151: How is it Sony’s mess up? They don’t decide who a third party (Activision) has make their games.

    Only fault of Sony is trusting Activision to put in effort with this game, and hyping it up like some huge AAA masterpiece.

  • @158
    It is partly Son’y’s Fault. Activision (This is just all speculation and what I THINK happened) didn’t care so Sony picked one of their worst developers to make this game. Activision didn’t choose the developer, I assume they just said meh do whatever you want with the name and make a COD game.

    This is not a simple *Dam I won’t get to play a good CoD game on my Vita* this is more a Holy crap a AMAZING CoD game on the Vita could have sold alot of Hardware, if they brought this out for the west and a Monster Hunter for the Asia Regions then BAM millions sold.

    There are alot of games coming to the Vita and it clearly shows Sony is trying but it still is loosing Third and Exclusive games because it currently is selling WAY WORSE then the 3DS even with its huge backlog of Gamers from the PsP.

    Sony Hyped it up and they need it suck it up and admit they were not ready, give it to a better developer and let them work on it for another year, trying to rush it to be completed in the next..3 months ? The game is going to be horrible and it CLEARLY shows.

    I just can’t wrap my head around the poor management from both Sony and Activision it amazes me.

  • Unfortunately, I have no faith in this game. I hope it does well.

  • Mm. All you had to do was show a video and then type Nihilistic. Now I see nothing but Resistance:B.S. (Burning Sky). Well, I am afraid that the developer has to prove themselves through reviews now after rushing to complete R:BS. I image they will be using much ‘data reuse’ in their OOP (object-oriented programming) for this game. Doesn’t look good Nihilistic, prove me wrong.

  • i wouldn’t mind seeing 6 v. 6 on this game!!

  • this game looks great but please delay it, polish it up and promise us zombies!!!!

  • @materclobber: A polished turd is still a turd.

  • im getting it when it comes out

  • @161 I wouldn’t mind 5v5 either because one of the least players that must be included in multiplayer is 5v5 like DOTA 2 and League of Legends

  • im sorry creators of the game but just like my self theres so many dissappoinment people,,,please try better next time after all is your name on the line,,,with all respect get some pionters from socom ftb3,,,,if u guys can put something like that together with better graphics,,thanks ,,,8vs8___gameplaymic,,,crucial

  • I would like to see Declassified polish up some more and include a more robust multiplayer. If the developer could include a 18 player multiplayer that should satisfy a lot of COD fans.

  • why nihilistic? isn’t one screwed-up game enough?

  • I hope the devs copied the SIXAXIS aiming from uncharted.

  • Questions:
    Will there be a Zombies mode?
    Will a demo be released?
    Will anything improve between now and release date?
    Are there any new and old Weapons?

    hope game is good

  • Will there be any dlc map packs?

  • Honestly this game doesnt look so appealing. I was STOKED for it at first, but the graphics look weak compared to the vitas ability. I also dont like how its “optimized for on the go” I want it to have a lengthy campaign, mot short missions. Multiplayer should be 6v6. Hopefully nihilistic learnt from rbs that graphics, sound and overall quality of their games need to be improved for a decent codbod game.

  • Is the Multiplayer leveling up system be connected to Black Ops 2 on the PS3? I know they are 2 separate games.., but would be good if they were connected in multiplayer scoring..

  • I think a lot of people have already made up their mind about this game from Burning Skies’ track record. Personally, I really tried to get into BS but it wasn’t compelling for something hyped up so much by marketing. For me I think Nihlistic needs to get away from BS as much as possible, even if it’s changing the graphics and audio for COD – I think the engine has potential if they keep building on it and improving its capabilities … but if they are using the same old stuff people are more likely to brush this off as another BS … they really should take visual cues from unit 13… there’s a good lookin shooter

  • You guys commenting crap on this game, all the “ZOMBIES ZOMBIES ZOMBIES OR IM OUT”, “OH ITS IN 30FPS I HATE IT!”, And especially the: “Oh its made by Nihilistic so it automatically makes it CRAP!”!!!!! JUST STOP IT ALREADY! Its a portable console for one thing, and I really feel sorry for those that base a COD based on whether it has Zombies or not. its not important!

    Also, dont compare the Zombies game on Xperia PLAY, as I have one myself and when I played it I had TONS of complaints with it! Guns dont feel satisfying at all, the sound is all mono/low quality, the zombies look all the same and generic looking, and its SUPER EASY to rack up 10000$ then just unlock all the rooms and upgrade the new guns you will have. It just SUCKS all together! Also, its a FLIPPIN PHONE! So no comparisons here, or Ill kill you!

  • And dont be judging a game based on its trailer, ITS A BETA THEIR SHOWING! They have months till its release, so they can EASILY fix the problems the playable beta demos shown. And I hope you realize this but the reason some games are not running or playing to their full potential is that Sony is doing like what they did with the PSP, where they limit the CPU and Memory usage to 1 gig of cpu, and IDK for the memory, it will take about 2 years AT LEAST for them to fully unleash the portable power this thing packs. If they did now then there really wouldn’t be much to it in the long run. Developers of Playstation mobile, especially those whose been involved with the PS Vita Remote Desktop project will undoubtedly realize this, as i have… since im part of the bug testing.

  • In the last picture, there is a board on the right, it said “Co quan”. Is that Vietnamese?

  • will they have a demo of this game its intense

  • I am going to ask the one question everyone one wants to know, will there be zombies in Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified? This will be a huge selling point for most people and I will deffinetly buy it if there is zombies and if it is exactly like the first Black Ops Zombies mode (I hope the multiplayer is still quite good too)

  • *Growls* You don’t get it either! A game does not rely on damn subgames that SUCK! I already stated this! Focus on the game itself, not whoever made it, the subgame, or how the graphics “Suck”, since they don’t as ITS A BETA! @%$#! @#$)$ @!@)!)#$!

  • Queue all the idiots who will attempt to play this on 3G and then whine about why it doesn’t work. Fyi, the amount of information that would be sent and received by your Vita using 3G would run the data limit on your pass out in no time. That’s the same reason that it’s not advisable to video chat, stream netflix, download psn content, or game online. There is simply too much information coming in and 3G is not fast enough to keep up. Also, the level of download speed you would get with 3G is nowhere near enough for online gaming or netflix but is just fine for browsing the internet, using near, voice chatting on party, google maps, etc. Stuff that doesn’t generate a lot of information. Also, the PSN uses certain TCP/UDP ports (look it up) on the Internet to send information to the PS Vita and 3G does not have a way to open specific TCP/UDP ports the way a wireless router would.

  • Answer more question really only 8 replies


  • i dont see y people r gettin mad at the grahics its not sopose 2 be like a CONSOLE it portible its not that eazy making gake thats portable

  • I just wanted to ask will the grahics be better then resistance burning skies

  • i think the first person graphics are fine, like the gun detail and all but it’s just the surroundings that get me worried. it looks lifeless and dull. when i saw nuketown i it looked like it was on a ps2! what happened to early ps3 graphics? they got us all excited when they first announced that they were making a cod for the vita and now they give us this. i wouldn’t have been that concerned that much with the graphics if they had decent gameplay but only 4v4 multiplayer?! that’s what the limit was for the psp. isn’t the vita suppose to be the next gen handheld? an upgrade from the psp? surely the vita could support better graphics and more players in multi. and on top of that it doesn’t even have zombies. this was a swing and miss for Nihilistic.

    NOTE TO ACTIVISION: don’t let amateurs develop one of your best selling franchises only so they can ruin it. hire experienced developers or do it yourself. big disappointment.

    they need to fix these problems or Nihilistic is going to be known as a bad developer or they won’t be making any profit from the game.

  • activision should learn from guerrilla games. all of the comments for killzone mercenaries are positive and everybody, including myself, is on the edge of their seats waiting for this game to be released, and we saw barely 25s of gameplay! the reason that game is going to be a huge success is bc they actually have the original team working on it, and it looks great! on the other hand activation just let some unknown amateur take the reins and let them completely ruin one of their best selling franchise! there is only about a handful of people out there who are satisfied with what they’re giving us and that’s because they don’t know the vita’s full capabilities. they’re selling themselves short.

    the game looks horrible and it has the same mechanics as resistance: BS which btw was a huge failure. we were all excited for this game on the vita but now they give us this garbage?they should’ve stuck with treyarch. the game plays exactly like the game that got a 4-10 and activision is letting the same people develop their best game. this game is gonna bust, they let us all down.

    i don’t know anything about killzone, but since CoD ain’t going nowhere, i don’t think it’s too late to switch teams

  • Mr. Rubenstein,

    Just wanted to know how things are looking as we haven’t heard from you in a while… Probably taking a break from all the negative comments. Some of us are genuinely interested in the game’s development and the information you have given thus far is very much appreciated!

    I understand you’re not the developer so you have no control over the game’s content or performance. But any feedback we get on the game would be great…

    Guys/Gals, dont shoot the messenger!! =)

  • @jb_x105strike – if you have a new mobile share account (i’m only familiar with att’s) you can add a tablet or gaming device for only $10 per month and share data from 1gb all the way up to 16gb per month..

    Yeah smart phones and dumb phones are rediculous expensive to add because of unlimited talk minutes, but add the vita for only $10 and share the data is now an option.

  • Hmmm, I think that Activision and sony are making Nhilistic to redo their title. One trailer goes out, then we don’t hear about this. I think activision was horrified by the 4vs4 MP. Also the psvita can do wayyyy better graphics than this. My opion, have sony bend make this instead. The didin’t screw up uncharted.

  • Here is the honest truth…… so far, in the life of the vita, we have seen hand-held versions of console games(Lego Batman 2, Resistance: Burning Skies, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and now Call of Duty) and that’s it. So my opinion is that these game developers are viewing the ps vita as just some hand- held gaming device like the Nintendo DS. And until they stop, realize that its so much more than just another on-the-go gaming device it will continue to go down hill.

    Now, i don’t know if anyone will ever read this, but you SONY YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING NOW! intervene and revive the PS vita. I don’t care if its a game that you all ready put on the PS just copy and paste it into PS vita format and sell it. Stop trying to come out with new stuff just let me take my favorite games with me on the go and i will be happy!!!!!

  • I feel that from the trailer they’ve shown its just Resistance with a different skin. I thought they least they could do was port the CoD4 engine onto the Vita (that would have instantly make the game better). But I hope Nihlistic can prove all of doubtful people wrong. I’m still doubtful.

  • -facepalm- this looks like absolute trash. If sony doesn’t do anything to stop this production, sales are most likely going to slowly plummet until better games like tearaway or killzone are released. There are so many things wrong with this, sony outlines that ps vita is capable of being almost as powerful as ps3 and ps3 is capable of bringing an awesome gaming experience. This so called “game” just tells consumers who want to buy the vita that ps vita is not worth it. I MEAN LOOK AT THIS, does this look acceptable on a ipod or even an android when we all clearly know that the first person shooters on ipods and androids look better than this. Quite frankly, Sony will either cancel this game and release it at a different time with a DIFFERENT developer who will spend time with it and can Nihilistic OR they will release this and slowly watch their greatest piece of tech die in a slow death. I love my vita, DO NOT DO THIS TO US SONY.

  • nicilistic have better learned from resistance or odds are that this game is going to be a joke

  • Black ops 2 needs to be a cross buy game. I wouldnt want to buy the game for ps3 and vita.

  • I’m disappointed. Resistance Burning Skies wasn’t all that great. In comparison to the 3 titles before it.
    I may not be a “Game Developer” or a “Game Designer”, but putting a team like Nihilistic on a Call of Duty game?

    Here’s my main fit. (Personal Opinion & Question!)

    #1 – Just by watching the trailer you can clearly see they are using the same engine as Resistance Burning Skies.
    Texture, Lighting. Etc! “If any improvements were made it’s not noticeable!!”

    #2 (Big Fit) If you are going to label this Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified, and you’ve managed to incorporate Multiplayer 4vs4 (At the least). Why the hell isn’t there a 4 Player Co-op Zombie Mode?

    #3 If I read another “This being a portable title and it can not compare to PS3 in terms of graphics”. Games like Assassin’s Creed Liberation, Killzone Mercenary, Gravity Rush, Persona 4, Ragnarok Odyssey, MLB 12. Are Fine examples of games that Look and Play GREAT! Except the first two are not out yet. They look good from a visual perspective as well as gameplay. Developers CAN make great games if they so chose!

    Step it up Nihilistic!

  • Jeff great review but I wanna know if U played the Nuketown map they showed in the tralier, and if so is it the same full Nuketown we know and love? I ask because in the trailer it seems that half the map is cut off. I just bope thats just for a certain game mode and we can have the same full map from the original Black Ops

  • people from burning skies making this? no wonder the trailer was a failure …. bye bye vita cod …. looking forward for killzone ….a msg for Nihlistic : ‘if u want to make a game , make it ‘real’ … if not … just stop trashing those big names!’ ….i want my burning skies money back!

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